You finished your song, mixtape, EP, or album. Now it’s time to release your creation into the world. Before you start marketing your music, you need to make sure that people can find your music when they search for you.
YouTube & SoundCloud
You should always post your music to YouTube: it’s the biggest music streaming service on the planet. If you have a music video for your song, you should upload that to YouTube.
If you don’t have visuals for your song, you need to convert your song into a video so you can upload it. Here’s a tutorial on how to get that done. If you or someone you know uses Adobe Creative Cloud, do this instead. To create more advanced animations in your YouTube video upload, check this out.
You should also post your music to SoundCloud. SoundCloud isn’t what it used to be, but it’s still an amazing community of music creators and fans. Here’s SoundCloud’s official guide to managing and uploading your tracks on their service.
Sample Clearances & Streaming Services
Next, let’s talk music streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music, and Tidal. I’m not a lawyer and what I’ve written here is not legal advice.
Before posting your music to these services, you should know if your songs have uncleared samples in them. An uncleared sample is a part of someone else’s song or creative work that you’re using in your own song without their permission.
If your song contains audio that somebody else owns - such as audio from another song, movie, or video game - you don’t have the legal rights to release your song without getting permission first.
A common example in our world is a producer flipping a sample to make a beat. Let’s say your producer flips an old soul record from the 1970s to make a track, and then you rap over that beat. If you didn’t get permission from the people who own the rights to that old 70s soul song, you aren’t supposed to release the song. You need a sample clearance first.
Uploading songs with uncleared samples to streaming services is a big risk: If a service like Spotify finds out that you uploaded a song without clearing the samples, they might disable your artist profile and take down all of your music. That’s why these days most artists create 100% original music instead of using samples like they did back in the day.
Some companies provide royalty-free samples. This lets producers use samples without forcing the artist to deal with the headache of getting sample clearances.
When I sample I use royalty-free sample packs, and none of the beats on my beat store have uncleared samples. You’re good to distribute any songs you create with my beats to services like Spotify and Apple Music. I wanted to make sure that artists who use my beats could have their songs everywhere to build their fanbase.
Get Your Music on Streaming Services
You can get your music on streaming services using a digital distributor. Your digital distributor is responsible for getting your music onto platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, Amazon Music, Pandora, and Deezer.
I like DistroKid the best because it lets you upload unlimited songs for $20 a year. If you plan to upload a lot of music, and I hope you do, unlimited songs is way better than a distributor that makes you pay a fee every time you upload a song or project. Curtiss King has a detailed tutorial on how to use DistroKid.
There’s one feature of DistroKid that you HAVE to use: HyperFollow. It is the shit. HyperFollow is a link that lets your fans save your new music to their Spotify library AND follow your Spotify artist profile with one click. This increases the chances your music will appear on algorithmic playlists like “Release Radar” and “Discover Weekly.” It links to your stuff on Apple Music too.
Here’s DistroKid’s example of what HyperFollow looks like in action. You can have a page like that for your own music, and then promote your link to grow your Spotify following.
A future version of this guide will cover how to copyright and register your music, royalties you can earn from your music, and how to collect them.
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